Today Daniel turns 22. Can you believe I have a 22-year-old son? Me neither. Just yesterday I was helping him tie the laces on his navy Keds and wiping the stickies from his fingers. Or so it seems.
In truth, Daniel is now quite the man. He's a senior in college and already has the job of his dreams lined up with Microsoft.
We are very proud of Daniel, but not just for his many achievements. We are pleased with the man he has become. While he is still known to pick at his sister mercilessly and hang on his mama like a five-year-old boy, Daniel has also proven himself to be an adult. He is responsible, wise, prudent, God-fearing, and generous to a fault. He is a true joy and a delight to spend time with.
When my husband and I began parenting 22 years ago, we set out to raise adults. We wanted to enjoy every stage of our children's lives, from infancy to graduation, but we also wanted to constantly keep the goal of adulthood before us at all times.
I won't go so far as to say that James and I have achieved our goal. I won't take that much credit. I know better. If there's one thing I've learned as a parent it's that God's grace is the precious substance which fills in all the cracks made by my consistent mistakes. Parenting is no sure thing. You can follow the best laid plan and still hit more bumps in the road than the map indicated. I take no pride in my parenting, only in the kids I've been blessed with.
But I do believe in setting the right goals as a parents. Those goals keep us on the path of our choosing so that we don't get derailed by the slippery slope of the world's demands or bumped off course by less noble pursuits.
I also have found that raising a boy into a man is quite different from raising a girl to be a woman. Males are unique and require a few things girls do not.
And so today, besides wishing my son a very happy 22nd, I thought I'd offer just a few brief tips for raising an adult male, a Daniel, if you will. If you want to have a mama's boy around all the days of your life, skip these. But if you want to one day enjoy mutual conversation with your adult child over a lunch for which he sprang the bill, take note.
- Don't cling to yesterday. I refused to be a mom who was constantly looking back. Instead, I determined to fully enjoy every single stage of my children's lives. If you resist them growing up, they'll resist it too.
- Push a little. "Go to the counter and ask for more ketchup packets. Go on." "Ask your teacher if there is something you can do differently to get a better grade next time. No, I'm not going to ask her; you ask her." "Answer the doctor's questions; don't look at me." "Go in there and get the job application. Then fill it out and ask for an interview. Get in there!"
- Teach and expect financial responsibility. Don't just teach them how to manage money; teach them how to make financial decisions: should I buy this now or wait for it to go on sale? how much should I save? how much is my tithe? is that really worth it? Also, boys really need to have a little spending money in their pockets. This is an important lesson my mom taught me and fortunately she usually kept Daniel supplied with a ten or twenty here and there. But we also gave him opportunities to earn a little spending money.
- Show some respect. Just like grown men desire to be respected, when your son hits the teen years, he will begin to crave respect, especially from his mother. This may seem counter intuitive. Has he really earned it yet? Author Shaunti Feldhahn helped me understand that respect is not really so much something we earn as it is something we all deserve simply because we are people. But boys crave it and need it more. You might check out her book For Parents Only for more information on this crucial topic. Your son desperately needs to be treated with ever-increasing respect if he is to turn into a respectable young man.
- Make him get a job! If anyone knows how busy teenagers are, I do. But I've come to the conclusion that boys need a job more than they need many of the other things which are tying up their time. I won't suggest they quit church youth group or school to get a job, but I will go so far as to say most boys would be better served holding down a part-time job than they would playing three sports a year or attaining valedictorian status. It's hard for many boys to get up the guts to go get a job; the fear of rejection looms large. But once they get that first job and begin to make a little money, their self-respect and self-control quotients heighten substantially.
- Teach him how to be a man. Dads need to model godly manhood before their sons. No one else can fill a dad's shoes in this role. But boys desperately need other strong male role models as well. We made a point of finding other young men Daniel could look up to, relate to, and hang with. We are thankful for the influence godly young husbands and dads have had on our son.
- Teach him how to treat a woman. As a mom it's important to demand to be treated well by a son. A dad can set the stage for this gracious treatment, of course, by treating the son's mother well. But a mom also needs to voice to her son what is and is not appropriate in his relationships with girls and women. Teach him to put her first, inquire about her needs, listen to her, be gentle with her, respect her, etc.
Like I said, I'm no expert parent. But I do have a wonderful young man who is turning 22 today. I'm delighted with who he is becoming.
And this list is not exhaustive. But I hope you can find one or two tips from it to help you on your son's path to adulthood. Hang in there mama! It's worth the work and all the prayers!
Happy Birthday, Daniel!
Labels: Daniel, motherhood, Navigating Motherhood, parenting